Just how “green” and eco friendly are industrial wind turbines?
Consider the reinforced concrete foundation base used to anchor a turbine into the soil. A typical base can contain 250 to 650 cubic meters of concrete. The size of the base depends on the turbine height, the mass of the blades and gearing systems, and the foundation engineering requirements of the turbine.
A typical ready mixed concrete truck holds 8 to 9 cubic meters each so that is a LOT of truck loads to fill just one single base (30 loads minimum, 70 loads maximum). Each cubic meter of concrete typically has an average mass of 2400 kg. Of that 2400 kg, one can expect 355 kg will be cementing materials and the remainder will be water (130 to 150 kg), chemical admixtures (mass is negligible) and aggregates (1915 kg to 1935 kg of stone & sand).
If we suppose that the Province were to follow through with their plans for 7000 turbines in Ontario, that would require the following amounts of materials: CEMENT 621,250 tonnes to 1.615 million tonnes, WATER (at 150 kg per cubic meter): 262.5 million liters to 682.5 million liters, STONE & SAND (at 1935 kg per cubic meter) 1.636 million tonnes to 4.25 million tonnes. That is a staggering amount of resources.
All of this material is extracted, mined, processed and transported using machinery that is either powered by diesel fuel, coal or electricity. Cement kilns are monster consumers of coal and natural gas. The bulldozers, crushers, screeners, trucks, railway cars and ships used to create and move this stuff all gobble countless thousands of liters of fuel.
The quarries needed to produce the cement and aggregates are stripped of their vegetation, and then they are rehabilitated (more fuel and energy consumed in that process).
Not to mention the construction roads and construction activity to “access” and develop all 7,000 IWT sites; and the energy and efforts required to create a new electrical grid that is necessary to connect all 7,000 IWT sites into the existing power supply grid.
Ontario has a finite amount of what are considered to be “prime” aggregate sources. Will there be any left for our existing roads, bridges, public buildings, homes, factories and farms? If so, how much will be left and at what premium will we have to pay to use it? The 7,000 turbines will be “competing” for these same “prime” aggregate sources.
So, how “green” is all of this going to be after all?
Replacing Ontario’s coal plants with Industrial Wind Turbines substitutes one set of air pollutants for another set of air / sound and ground pollutants. Is this protecting Ontario in the way that Minister Wilkinson would have us believe it is?
W. Dean Trentowsky
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